Well friends, it was one of those nights. A collection of perfect moments stacked on top of other perfect moments. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon that melted away into a decadent Saturday night, and with a national audience including in house appearances by Ron, Don, and Spike Lee (prove to me that he WASN’T there), your Calgary Flames put the cherry on top.
In case you didn’t notice, we had ourselves a little bit of a Battle of Alberta tonight, and true to form, it was a spirited tilt, where all the surrounding optics that usually follow teams over the course of the season fade, and the two provincial rivals, regardless of where they are in the course of their respective histories, combine to treat fans to some of the purest hovkey you will ever see. Tonight was just one more pristine example of how beautiful this game can be when two impassioned franchises rise above themselves and leave everything on the line.
The Flames, however, were just much much better this time around.
Get Off My Back, Monkey!
You’ve heard it all month now: "In a lockout shortened 48 game season, every game is important". Which is, I suppose, at least a little bit true. So it’s safe to say that when you’re playing your fourth game and still looking for your first win, well, YOU BETTER GET THAT FIRST WIN.
What better way to smash though that wall then by putting stick to the "good" forever rivals talking a big game up north? It’s cute when they talk like that, but the Flames did a good job of reminding them who was the babysitter and who was the baby tonight.
Mikael Backlund continued his mini-renaissance by opening the scoring in the first period by scoring a decidedly Ryan Smyth goal (which is to say, an ugly one). Jay Bouwmeester, who was an absolute bull tonight (you read that right), made it 2-0 after slipping one past a Jarome Iginla screened alleged starting goaltender Deven Dubnyk shortly after the Flames power play had expired.
The Oilers did make it worth watching before the end of the stanza as Anaheim’s Most Wanted Justin Schultz blasted a maybe questionable gun past Flames goalkeeper Miikka Kiprusoff who, unsurprisingly, was bananas good for most of the game.
That said, the Oilers did outchance the Flames in the beginning frame, putting up 6 chances to Calgary’s 4 (despite Calgary outshooting the Oilers 13-10 (13 shots in the first period! (!))), which is hilarious, because 2-1 Flames. What an organization.
From that point on, it was all Flames. Like if not for the fact that it was absolutely hilarious, it wouldn’t have even been funny.
Despite Jordan Eberle scoring the Oilers second PP goal of the night while Mark Giordano was sitting in the penalty box for watching Eberle fall over, it was about the only real shred of offense we’d see from those precious young children for the balance of the contest.
Curtis Glencross potted his third goal of the season to start the second, on a BONKERS dish from Jarome Iginla, and Lee Stempniak also cashed in his third (on an equally pretty pass by Bouwmeester) as his scheduled hot streak continues on over the early part of the campaign for the Flames. The boys in red outchanced the Oilers 9-4, outshot them 13(!)-4, and things started to get real dusty over on the Edmonton bench.
The third period was Calgary’s offering to let the Flames fans embrace themselves in the win, playing a tough defensive game that just shut down the vaunted Oiler’s still really kind of puny offensive efforts. The Oilers managed 20 shots to end the game along with 13 scoring chances, while the Flames finished the night with 18 chances, 35 shots, and most importantly, 2 points, while Flames head coach Bob Hartley earned his first of hopefully many wins as a Calgary Flame.
And golly, it was fun to watch.
J-Bo Est J-Bon
That’s French, y’all.
While outside of Blake Comeau and to an extent Matt Stajan, neither of whom were particularly good, and Sven Baerstchi, who was limited to 5 minutes, presumably on purpose, most of the Flames played out of their skulls on this night. Lee Stempniak had a three point night, Iginla was a bull, and Kipper is as Kipper does (which is be awesome at things).
But Bouwmeester was the man on this one. Playing 24:01 of the most important minutes of the game (as always) (somehow the Flames leader in ice time was Dennis Wideman, so that’s a thing that happened), Bouwmeester had a goal and an assist and was all over the ice on both ends of the puck. He even led the odd rush, in Bobby Orrwellian fashion, which is a term I just made up. He looked very much like the player everyone expected to see when Stanley Cup Winner Darryl Sutter signed him to a six year eleventy billion dollar contract three seasons ago. He was worth the money tonight.
He even hit a couple of people, so get your smile on, Jay, you’ve been deemed pretty good at hockey by a panel of experts who were watching you tonight and are only mostly me on that panel.
One of the big stories going into the game (outside of it being the Battle of Alberta that the Oilers were supposedly going to decimate the Flames in, which is adorable, thanks for coming out Edmonton, you were all like puppies out there) was that the Flames were FINALLY going to get to debut their significant offseason acquisitions, Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka.
While Cervenka, who hadn’t played in a game since November, and has racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles flying between Russia, Calgary, Phoenix, and Mars over the past 10 days or so, looked unspectacular, which you might expect, but you can see that good things are coming. And that. freaking. rules.
Hudler, on the other hand, was all Black Crowes about it, being way to hard to for the Oilers to handle on this night, running roughshod over the Schultzes of the world and even assisted on Lee Stempniak’s game winning power play goal in the second.
The Czech forwards each played just under 18 minutes, and looked REALLY good when you consider they were centered by Matt Stajan, and they just made the Flames immediately better. The team has some depth now, and we’re all happy to be able to hear that word again without any hint of sarcasm for once.
Kent said it best on twitter: I can say the Flames can actually ice to two full PP units for the first time in recent memory.
I couldn’t agree more. This is not your father’s Calgary Flames. Assuming your father only started watching the Flames 4 years ago.
Look out for the Flames, Citizens, because they are on their way.